It only happens every five years, and much can change during that time. The data is used in many ways, including in shaping policies that impact rural America and your local community. We’re talking about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. IL Corn encourages all those receiving the surveys to complete them fully and accurately, either on paper or online. The information is only as good as the data, so the results are in your hands.
The following is an article from Matt Russell, the USDA-NASS Public Affairs Regional Director, Heartland region.
Corn farmers in Illinois are well used to seeing surveys from the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), but in the months ahead, you’ll also start to see something equally important: The 2017 Census of Agriculture. Every farmer in America needs to be ready to respond as the Census is “Your Voice. Your Future. Your Opportunity.” But in particular, it’s important that Illinois corn farmers respond to ensure that other farmers, legislators, and the people in your community can understand the tremendous positive impact that your work has on the country, and on the state of Illinois. Who better to tell your story, and the story of your farm and family, than you?
The 2012 Census gave us all key insights into Illinois agriculture. We learned that in just five years, national corn sales had grown a staggering 69 percent, and had become a $67.3 billion industry! In Illinois alone, the Census showed the value of corn sales at $8.25 billion! In addition to that increase, the Census also showed us that family farms make up 83 percent of all corn operations, and 65 percent of sales. Information like that can help commodity associations, check-off groups, and policy makers understand a situation much more fully than a simple increase in industry size. That’s information directly from the farmers and ranchers that responded to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
The Census isn’t just about the numbers though. In addition to the standard crops and livestock information that the Census has always sought out, the USDA seeks to learn new things about the farmers that make up agriculture with every Census. The 2017 Census of Agriculture will focus on learning about farmers who are also veterans. Many new programs such as the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Homegrown by Heroes aim to support veterans as they transition from defending the nation to feeding it. Hard data from the Census will make sure that organizations like these are best able to direct their efforts and help the most people.
Feedback from farmers has helped the USDA to make the 2017 Census the fastest and most convenient in its 177-year history. Farmers who want the easiest experience should use the online response form which will automatically skip irrelevant questions and calculate totals, making this the preferred way to respond to the Census.
When you, or someone you know, receives the 2017 Census of Agriculture in December, make sure your voice is heard and respond immediately!